Processing contextual and lexical cues to focus: Evidence from eye movements in reading
journal contributionposted on 25.07.2013, 11:12 by Antje Sauermann, Ruth Filik, Kevin B. Paterson
Three eye movement experiments investigated the interaction between contextual and lexical focus cues during reading. Context was used to focus on either the indirect or direct object of a double object construction, which was followed by a remnant continuation that formed either a congruous or incongruous contrast with the contextually focused object. Experiment 1 demonstrated that remnants were more difficult to process when incongruous with the contextually focused constituent, indicating that context was effective in specifying focus. Experiments 2 and 3 investigated the interaction between context and lexical focus arising from the particle only which specifies focus on the subsequent adjacent element. When only preceded both objects (Experiment 2), the conflict between lexical and contextual focus cues disrupted processing of the remnant element and was resolved in favour of the contextually focused element. However, when only was placed between both objects (Experiment 3), cue-conflict disrupted processing earlier in the sentence but did not appear to be fully resolved during on-line sentence processing. These findings reveal that the interplay between contextual and lexical cues to focus is important for establishing focus structure during on-line sentence processing.